British supermarket Tesco has held talks with former prime minister and current Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair to help smooth its expansion into the region, reported Brand Republic yesterday.
According to reports in a UK newspaper, Blair was offered a fee in the region of 6 million AED to act as a “figurehead” for the brand, which is the world’s third largest retailer.
It is believed Tesco hoped Blair would be able to use his diplomatic clout to aid its plans in the region. However, the paper said talks broke down over an “unknown reason” unconnected with money.
Blair’s talks with Tesco has led to questions over whether it is appropriate for a peace envoy to represent a supermarket’s interest in the region. Blair gives economic and political advice through his company Tony Blair Associates.
Tesco is behind Wal-Mart and French supermarket Carrefour in the race for world supermarket share. Limited opportunities to expand in its saturated UK base and has seen it look overseas in recent years.
The most notable opening for Tesco has been its Fresh & Easy chain on the west coast of the US. However its international chain spreads over Thailand, the Czech Republic, South Korea and Poland.
In response to the Blair story Tesco said: “We wouldn’t comment on which advisers we may or may not talk to, or speculation about potential markets for Tesco.”
Tony Blair Associates denied Blair had any commercial relationship with Tesco.